In 272 A.D., Palmyra was known as the Bride of the Desert. But few brides have this much scandal attached to their train. King Odainat of Palmyra has been assassinated by a mysterious hand, his queen has taken the reigns of leadership for herself, and the man whose knife was used to do the deed has a secret he would die rather than tell. Enter Philip of the Combarren, spy-master and king’s man, who knows everything before it happens – well, with a few minor exceptions, like who killed the king and who the queen has hired to keep watch in her name. He’s lanky, Jewish, and the manager of an underground network of world renown in a city as full of intrigue and menace as Rome itself. Palmyra, Syria, is a dangerous collection of east and west, of desert Arabs and regal Persians and hardheaded Romans, of magnificent columns juxtaposed with shepherds’ shacks - with religions and beliefs as varied as the colors of skin in the streets, and ruled by a woman whose thirst for glory will ruin them all.
Queen Zenobia’s march across Syria-Phoenicia, Egypt, and north to the Black Sea, will go down in history as one of the three times a woman dared Roman might. Cleopatra of Egypt and Boudicea of Britain both committed suicide upon their defeat, but Zenobia will sacrifice her city and her people for her own safety. Unless someone stops her. Someone with the foreknowledge of what she intends to do, the possession of the throne’s heir to bribe Rome, and the ingenuity to do so without losing his head in the process. He must also convince Emperor Aurelian of his honesty, Luciano Macleftus of his good intentions, and a girl who carries herself like a flame that he loves her too much to hurt her. Some would think it was too much of a gamble. But then, Philip was always amazingly lucky with dice.
About Melissa C. Kirby
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Published July 3, 2012
History, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction.